The Department of Justice urged the Supreme Court to reinstate the death penalty for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, calling it “one of the worst” acts of terrorism on US soil since September 11.
Despite President Joe Biden’s public opposition to capital punishment, his administration supported an appeal first filed by his predecessor in a 48-page brief filed with the Supreme Court, which seeks to overturn a decision from a lower court to vacate Tsarnaev’s death sentence.
The death sentence was overturned last July by a federal appeals court that said the judge who oversaw the case did not adequately screen jurors for potential biases.
The case was first appealed by the Justice Department in October, while former President Donald Trump was still in office. It posed a test to Biden’s commitment to ending the federal death penalty, which Trump resumed after a nearly two-decade pause.
The Supreme Court said in March it would decide whether the death penalty can be reinstated for Tsarnaev. The court will likely hear the case in its term beginning next fall, with a decision expected by the summer of 2022.
Tsarnaev was convicted of plotting along with his older brother the April 15, 2013 bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three and wounding more than 260 others. Tsarnaev’s older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed in a shootout with police three days later.
He was convicted on April 8, 2015, and handed down death sentence on June 24, 2015. His death sentence was vacated on appeal in July 2020.
Tsarnaev, 27, was given 20 life sentences in addition to the death penalty and will remain in prison for the remainder of his life regardless of the Supreme Court’s action.
Dzhokhar Anzorovich Tsarnaev is a Kyrgyz-American of Chechen descent. He and his family had traveled to the United States on a tourist visa and subsequently claimed asylum during their stay in 2002. He became a naturalised US citizen on September 11, 2012.